Senate Theater

13-15 North Second Street,
Harrisburg, PA 17101

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Jay Emanuel Theaters

Architects: William Harold Lee

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

SENATE Theatre, Market Square, Harrisburg, PA.

The Senate Theater opened April 29th, 1938. The theater was established in the old Russ Building. a building housing storefronts and offices. The upper floors were removed for the theater. The cost to convert the Russ Building into a movie house was $74,700, excluding the cost of clearing the upper floors.

The Senate Theater was owned by Jay Emanuel Theaters of Philadelphia, publisher of several theatrical trade magazines and owner/operator of fourteen theaters. The exterior was sleek with a cool, sophisticated, streamlined facade of structural art glass maroon, orange and black with bronze and stainless steel trim. The interior featured soothing, rose-colored tapestry walls with a fleur-de-lis design and the color-coordinated carpeting.

The first film shown at the Senate Theater was a romantic comedy titled “Joy of Living”. The last show at the Senate Theater the week of Jan. 24, 1988 was an X-rated double feature of “Erotic City” and “Aunt Peg’s Fulfillment”. The Senate Theater closed, and the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority agreed on February 4, 1988, to acquire the building as part of the site for a new hotel. The Senate Theater was razed in April 1988.

Contributed by John Messick

Recent comments (view all 57 comments)

Ross Care
Ross Care on November 1, 2010 at 8:39 pm

The VIRGIN QUEEN (Bette Davis, Joan Collins, CinemaScope) at the Senate. Coming ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY:
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Ross Care
Ross Care on November 13, 2010 at 11:54 am

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Ross Care
Ross Care on November 13, 2010 at 11:59 am

Also see: my album of Pennsylvania, California, and a few other vintage cinemas around the world + some ads & a bit of memorabilia:
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Ross Care
Ross Care on March 22, 2011 at 12:42 am

Here is a new close-up photo of the Senate entrance doors and electric eye:
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JohnMessick on March 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

Thanks for sharing the picture Ross….I think as a child I was there for a Disney movie…I am betting it was a beautiful theater inside.

Ross Care
Ross Care on March 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Thanks, John. As I’ve said, as I kid I first discovered movies at the SENATE over many downtown Saturday matinees. The re-issues of the Disney classic features and the first releases of PETER PAN, THE LIVING DESERT, etc.
Also of course great UI sci-fi thrillers, several in 3-D.

So for better or worse, it’s still a part of my consciousness.

I recently discovered a few color slides of the Senate I didn’t know I had. Exteriors, such as the one I just put on FLICKr. I’ll add them from time to time.

Wish I had some of the interior. I do remember it was a kind of salmon pink with large white Art Deco lights on the side walls.

Yes, a great little movie house.

Ross Care
Ross Care on March 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

“And at a deadly pace"
to the Senate:
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Ross Care
Ross Care on June 5, 2011 at 3:16 am

See also:

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 22, 2011 at 11:48 am

Found some new color slides of the SENATE I took in 1982. These are some of the best yet. Here’s a link to one I just added:

Ross Care
Ross Care on July 2, 2012 at 10:18 am

That is amazing! Thanks for the link. The Box Office site looks really interesting.

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